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Patriarch Antonios of Eritrea: An Icon of St. Paul in Chains

By Scholarios Gennadius The rightful occupant of the Episcopal throne of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewhado Church is widely known to have been unlawfully detained in an undisclosed location within the general confines of Amasra, Eritrea for

By Scholarios Gennadius

The rightful occupant of the Episcopal throne of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewhado Church is widely known to have been unlawfully detained in an undisclosed location within the general confines of Amasra, Eritrea for approximately 7 years and an uncanonical claimant has been occupying the Patriarchal throne. Reliable sources have indicated that while His Holiness is of delicate health due to a lack of proper medical care, his spirits remain high and his faith unshaken in response to a dedicated and fruitful prayer life.

His Holiness is viewed as a true icon of St. Paul who is depicted as a prisoner in chains in the books of Philemon 1:1, Ephesians 3:1 and especially in 2 Timothy 1:8 where he asks Timothy not to be ashamed of his imprisonment, but to join him in his suffering for the Gospel.  In this manner of faithful resolve, His Holiness Antonios is steadfast and endures his suffering without complaint or ill words toward those who detain him just as St. Paul instructed his captors rather than criticizing them.  This is why His Holiness is a living icon of St. Paul in Chains and establishes his rightful claim to the Episcopal Throne of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewhado Church and explains why most of the faithful continue to view His Holiness as the rightful leader of the Eritrean Church and continue to advocate for his well being while praying for his eventual return.

His Holiness is currently 87 years old and suffers greatly from decimating and debilitating effects of advanced diabetes.  It is important to recognize that the major concern of the Eritrean faithful is the unattended medical condition of their spiritual leader, which makes their concern a humanitarian matter rather than a political or church matter.  According to Article 3 of the Geneva Convention it is stated that as a minimum, the wounded or sick should be collected and cared for and this is based upon recognition of the moral and ethical treatment of another human who is suffering or in the involuntary care of another party.  Article 3 of the Geneva Convention also indicates that all prisoners of conflict should be treated humanely and protected from “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment…,” which denial of appropriate medical treatment, religious observance and human companionship may be so characterized.

The irony of the situation is that His Holiness is not a prisoner of war, a combatant, an enemy, a political or military threat; nor a bearer of arms against a sovereign nation.  Nevertheless, according to reliable internal sources, he is being denied one of the most basic of human rights, which is necessary medical care in response to a well known disease that is undoubtedly exacerbated by advanced age resulting in steadily declining health and well being, which failing medical and humanitarian intervention will ultimately result in the unfortunate death of a humble and faithful human being.  Remarkably, the aforementioned information sources have indicated that despite his declining health Patriarch Antonios is always in good spirits and remains in prayer for his captors, as well as for his spiritual children of his beloved Eritrean Orthodox Tewhado Church.

This behavior is reminiscent of St. Paul during his period of captivity and is the basis for His Holiness being considered an icon of St. Paul in Chains.  The chains by which he is bound are as much spiritual as they are physical because they restrict His Holiness Antonios from exercising his spiritual leadership over what has become a widely disbursed church with members in many countries outside of their homeland who still look to their patriarch for spiritual guidance and reassurance.

The faithful priests, deacons, religious and faithful of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewhado Church which is in Diaspora on many shores request your prayerful support in advocating for the humane treatment and appropriate respect for His Holiness, Patriarch Antonios and that of the worldwide community of faith.  For more information on the plight of Patriarch Antonios and to sign the petition for his return please follow our link to Support Patriarch Antonios.

+Metropolitan Scholarios-Gennadius III, OSB
Œcumenical Canonical Orthodox Church Worldwide

The Global Herald

Review overview
  • Zeray March 1, 2012

    A true teacher in deeds. What is missing with most of us Eritreans is the stamina, the focus and the commitment of this man of God. The solution to our problems in Eritrea is exemplified by this icon.

    I envy him, I want to be strong like him.

  • Almaz March 1, 2012

    I agree with you Zeray. It is uplifting to have such a holy father; he is a candle light in a deep darkness overshadowing we Eritreans as a people and country.
    He wrote just a single letter but prayed a lot; as a result almost the whole world is looking for him and his testimony. I would like also to praise those clergies who stood by the truth (alongside his holiness Abune Antonios). It is my hope that those and many other clergies follow the life of the Holy father (deeds not words, please!!!).
    I feel so disturbed when we Eritreans tend to talk much more than what we do. It is action not words that brings change.
    May his prayer and the prayer of many other Godly people save us from demise! Amen.

    • ahmed saleh March 1, 2012

      Abune Antonios spiritual strength as we call it as IMAN is strong weapon to our beleifs andmental health. This noble father is a grate example to follow his path how to endure evilish situations in our life. As my Mam’s advice ” not to let your Iman weakned to protect yourself from devilish obsession”.
      Where does these cruelties come in our culture to treat our elders and women to this kind unspeakable manners. For me it is cowardy , paranoid and dillussioned acts . Since they put their foot in Asmera the reflection of their behavior was suspected by many observers mainly to the mature people. We are dealing with mafiose style thugs from Sahel, unless eradicated from its root the future is deem.
      I don’t know what to say, we yelled, screamed, angered and louded to express our frustration to the country and our people causes. Sometimes you feel helpless and frustrated for not doing nothing to make a change to their plight.
      May Allah intervene with his powers on their behalf.

      • ahmed saleh March 1, 2012

        pls. read as great example

  • Fr. Athanasius March 1, 2012

    Nothing describes this icon of the Eritrean ideal for troubled times such as this as does the life and work of the Eritrean Orthodox Patriarch, Abune Antonios. The word “Abune” means “our Father”. He has lived to that honorific title by being a true father to an otherwise orphaned and betrayed nation.

    Those who have followed his example in the Eritrean Orthodox Church – Abune Makarios, the priests, deacons and faithful – have projected his example of courage. In spite of all the hardships they have suffered, they have stood up to the truth without a moment of wavering. The North America Diocese (hagaere sibket) led by Bishop Makarios and the newly established Dioceses in Europe and the Middle East have fought for the sanctity of their faith and church. May God bless all their efforts.

    I call upon all those who call themselves “Orthodox believers ” to exemplify the piety, simplicity and powerful courage of Abune Antoinios. By the same token, I am deeply touched by those from other faith traditions who have shown an unwavering support for the cause of His Holiness.

  • A Iyasu March 1, 2012

    ንምውት ምቕባር
    ንሕዙን ምጽንናዕ
    ንእሱር፥ ንሕሙም ምብጻሕ
    ንዕሩቕ ምኽዳን
    ንጽሙእ ምስታይ
    ንጋሻ ምቕባል
    ንጭኑቕ ምጽንናዕ

    ኣምላኽ ዝፈትዎም ባህርያት ኢዮም። እቲ ንእዝጊሄ ዝፈርሕ ህዝቢ ኸኣ ናቱ ይገብሮም።

    • ahmed saleh March 1, 2012

      A Iyassu
      Beautifully said, and we call it once you do that , you are blessed. And that was
      the culture of our society I grew-up with.

  • y'akhleni March 2, 2012

    What is the Geneva convention to Isayas Afeworqi?? he is the devil incarnate, and nothing humane makes sense to him. Sadly many believed in him, to date, and we are witnessing disaster uncovering right infront of our eyes. All the lies, the betrayals, the ruthless treatment of dissidents, locking away of ordinary citizens (the “law” of axnahaley), forgery, extortion, blackmailing, harrassing of families for a crime (if it is indeed a crime) commited by the offsprings, ohh you name it…everything illegal and abnormal under the norms of this current world are the sole characterisitics of the regime in power. Entay emo y’hishena??

  • Kokhob Selam March 2, 2012

    They said (PFDJ supporters) opposition are narrow minded people. but Muslims and Christians
    are together for truth. Thanks God.Semerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  • g March 2, 2012

    his holines is not 87 years old and he is not diabetic thanks god. The writer dont know him or never met him however he just writting to use the holines shame on him. Why are the opposition taking advantage of people.

  • Zemuy March 2, 2012

    In Seattle there are two tewahdo Churches one supports Isayas the other stood with the Patriarch what is funny is most of those who attended pro HIGDEF priest and Church call them selves opposition

  • Mohamed March 3, 2012

    His Holiness Abune Anthonious is an Eritrean hero. We Eritrean muslims stand shoulder to shoulder with his followers. The dictator and his sectarian regime have to go.

  • Almaz March 3, 2012

    You are right. You can see the same situation in Indianapolis. One of the main deficiencies of the so called traditional opposition groups is that they don’t have principle. Their grouping doesn’t go beyond narrowly-founded relationships (religious, ethnic, provincial gatherings like EKUB). Their words go east while their actions flow towards the west. That is why people couldn’t decide to follow them. At the moment the devilish regime is naked beyond any time, the majority of our people are for change.
    The only hope is from the young generation who possess un-polluted mind set: Justice for all Eritreans, regardless where they were born and live, what religion they follow, what ethnic groups they belong to. The blood that was shed almost at every corner of the nation is the same, be it from a Muslim martyr, or Christian martyr, lowlander martyr or highlander martyr. Calling justice for the legal patriarch of the Orthodox Church is calling justice for the Eritrean Muslim, catholic, protestant, etc. An opposition that doesn’t understand this common sense is not an opposition at all.